As I've mentioned here recently, I've been in Rome for the last few days. Here's why.
For the last three years, two colleagues and I (one is a deacon-professor of theology from Italy; the other is a deacon and former President of the International Diaconate Center in Germany -- although he himself is from the Netherlands) have been working to establish a "studium" in Rome on the diaconate: it's theology, spirituality, history, and so on. This will be a way for people to engage in higher research on the subject. Since it is international in scope, students will be able to have access to ideas and work from scholars around the world.
I'm pleased to report that our work is nearly complete. With the full and enthusiastic support of the Cardinal-Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, we have now established working relationships with various pontifical universities of Rome, and by March we will have a fully-approved list of faculty and courses. We hope to begin these offerings in the summer of 2012. There will be three weeks of offerings: one week of intensives will cover various theological topics; another will cover biblical topics; and the third will cover patristic topics. Students who wish, of course, could stay for all three weeks; or, they can come for one week. The courses will be taught for credit either through a partner university (for example, from here in the US) or through the Gregorianum University in Rome; all faculty will be credentialed through the Congregation.
The purpose here is not pre-ordination formation, nor are the courses for deacons alone. Rather, these will be advanced topics for any scholars who wish to examine various aspects of the diaconate in more detail. It will also serve as a kind of clearing house for completed research.
Just thought you might enjoy an update!